Quirks & Quarks

Star-Within-a-Star

A Red Supergiant star with a core made of a Neutron star has been discovered....
Small Magellanic clouds, courtesy NASA

A Red Supergiant star with a core made of a Neutron star has been discovered.

Astronomers have discovered what they think is the first example of a previously theoretical object: a red supergiant star that has absorbed a neutron star at its core. It's thought that the system began as two red supergiants in a binary pair. One of the stars then went supernova, leaving a neutron star remnant, which was then swallowed by the other supergiant. This new hybrid star would experience unique nuclear reactions in its core, which would produce a tell-tale signature in its light. Dr. Emily Levesque, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and her colleagues, found this signature in a star in the small Magellanic Cloud, just outside our galaxy.

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